The rise of the mummy blogger

There's nothing better than receiving a toy endorsement from a real mum or dad. But what are the challenges of managing blogs and what do parents really want from you? We ask mums and marketing execs.
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Forget the pain (and pleasure) of dealing with us journalists for a moment – there’s a new breed of writer on the block.

She isn’t hired by an editor to ask questions, nor is she representing a brand or publication. She’s not usually restrained by deadlines. She’s also not limited to a handful of friends; she has hundreds, thousands, even millions of potential readers. 

She doesn’t really care about your best interests either – she wants to know and share what’s best for her kids, and that of course includes toys. 

We’re talking about ‘mummy bloggers’ of course; mothers who write personal blogs about their lives, friends, family, children and more. Don’t forget dad, either. He’s just as likely to run such a site. Often witty, honest and unrelenting, both will publish what they want, when they want. 

So how can you get a gleaming toy review or other piece of PR magic with these bloggers?

“Mums are much more likely to buy based on the recommendations of other mums, so working with bloggers is great way to create word of mouth,” Golden Bear’s marketing and product development director Christine Nicholls told ToyNews.

“We work very closely with targeted bloggers, sending products we think they’ll enjoy rather than just bombarding them with constant samples. We’ve had some great feedback on our products and it’s reassuring to know kids and mums are enjoying our toys.”

InspirationWorks’ UK marketing manager Katie Roberts adds: “We have run giveaways with some lovely bloggers and one in particular has massively increased the awareness of our brands and our products. In turn, we have seen a direct impact on our social media followers, which have increased tenfold during the competitions.”

Almost every toy firm has its own blogger programme or panel these days, as well as retailers like Toys R Us and even licensing companies such as DCD Publishing, with the latter now representing UK blogger Metropolitan Mum.

Playmobil is one such toy firm that has an initiative in place. 

“The key to standing out is to ensure your blogger programme goes beyond simple product reviews,” comments Playmobil UK’s marketing manager Jamie Dickinson. 

“Playmobil has run an incredibly successful Playologist programme for over three years. We researched and identified a selection of the highest ranked mummy and daddy bloggers, with children in the right age for Playmobil toys. 

“Our Playologists also receive some toys ahead of general release and are invited to exclusive events such as previewing our latest ranges at Toy Fair.”

However, it’s not all fun and games. ToyNews is aware of several toy companies who’ve had to deal with rude, demanding and unresponsive mummy bloggers. We’re sure those are in the minority, but that doesn’t mean the problem doesn’t exist (see ‘Don’t Mess With Mum’ for tips on how to handle bloggers, and ‘What Bloggers Want’ for a parent’s perspective).

The positives clearly outweigh the negatives, though, with companies recognising the benefit of working closely with bloggers.

“[Metropolitan Mum] Deborah is being targeted by toy companies, because they know there is nothing better than receiving an endorsement from mums who a lot of other parents follow and trust,” says Charlotte Ridge from DCD Publishing.

Dickinson adds: “Another key benefit is that blogs are well read by other parents. No one can underestimate the value of peer-to-peer recommendations – parents trust others.”

And it looks like that trust is continuing to grow with regards to the industry, too. 

DON'T MESS WITH MUM

We asked marketers for their top tips on how to handle bloggers…

“Bloggers may not want to have toys as a central feature and may prefer to see and hear what their children play with organically. You should only send relevant toys. For example don’t post boy-orientated products to girls.”
Charlotte Ridge, DCD Publishing

“Obviously, if a mummy blogger doesn’t like your product, it can be a bit risky. That’s why we always choose our bloggers very carefully to ensure they get the right products for the ages of their children.”
Christine Nicholls, Golden Bear


WHAT BLOGGERS WANT

Or what they don’t want, courtesy of Daddacool.co.uk blogger Alex Walsh.

“Some [toy firms] demand exclusivity or no reviews from ‘competitors’ within a certain timeframe and that can get irritating, because to my mind if they have faith in their products, they should stand up on their own," he says. 

“There have been a couple of instances where agencies have offered to lend us fairly inexpensive toys for a period of time and I tend to turn those down. This isn't because I'm greedy, but because it's difficult to explain to a five year old why the toy they love is being taken away from them.

“It works well when companies give exposure rather than simply demanding an immediate blog post for maximum views.”

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